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Monday, February 27, 2006

Journal Entry - February 28, 2006

Rain for most of the day. More expected overnight and tomorrow (Yea!)

New leaves showing on:
Crape Myrtle
Japanese Maple

Daffodils (continuing)
Bewitched Roses - Pink

Ongoing Work:
Blocks for new back wall arrived and placed along property line ready for work.
First full-sized forms being erected for new parking garage so we can start to get some idea of how tall it will be
Rain stopped work early on construction site

Project List:
Repair Clytostoma trellis outside office
Clean up pergola construction debris
Complete raking of forest area
Build 2 new garden mirrors using old mirrors from dining room remodel
Build compost sifter
Buy new compost bins
Sift/Apply/Move compost

A Gardener's Notebook 004 - February 27, 2006

A rainy day here in the Van Nuys, California, but all the plants are loving it.

Listen to the Podcast

I'd love to hear what's going on in your garden. Post your comments here or email them to agn@welchwrite.com.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Hedges without edges from the LA Times

Today's Home section of the Los Angeles Times has an interesing article entitled Hedges Without Edges.

One of the most useful comments, among many, is that many of us plant hedges that grow too fast, give them too much water and prune them so they grow too tightly.

The article provides great hedge examples and a short list of plants to consider for your own hedges. the California Bay (Umbellularia californica) sounds like something I might consider for my own garden as it tolerates shade and only grows about a foot a year.

Link: Hedges without edges by Emily Green
Link: Books about hedges

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

HOW TO - Easy bird feeder hangers

This great page from Instructables, a collection of visual How-To's, offers some great ideas for mounting bird feeders around your yard.

HOW TO - Easy bird feeder hangers

Terrie has a good how to on making hanging bird feeders - "Use flag-holder brackets, paint bucket hooks, and conduit/tubing to make it easy to hang your bird feeders where they're visible but still safe from the neighborhood cats."

MAKE: Blog.)

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Video - Sepulveda Wildlife Area Bird Walk

We had a fun, if a bit wet, bird walk at the Sepulveda Wildlife Area yesterday afternoon. We saw many different species and hundreds of birds of all types. Click on the photo to view a short video of our walk.

I will be putting together an audio podcast of our adventure, with more detail and an interview with our leader, Keri, in the next week or so.

You can join Keri on similar birdwalks in the next few weeks. Visit this post for more information.

Link: Sepulveda Wildlife Area Bird Walk Video
Link: Upcoming Bird Walks with Keri
Link: Great Backyard Birdcount Web Site
Link: Related info on birds from WelchWrite.com
Link: Books on Birdwatching

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Event: It's (almost) Cherry Blossom Time Again!

I did a quick reconnaissance run over to Lake Balboa today to check out the Japanese Cherry Trees that surround the man-made lake. Most of the trees were showing big, fat buds, but as I left the park on the west side I noticed one tiny tree with blossoms already out. My calendar shows that the trees were in full bloom last year on February 27, so things should start happening pretty quickly. Lake Balboa also sports a dazzling wisteria bloom around the same time each year.

As I was looking for web links for Lake Balboa in preparing this post, I came across the Lake Balboa Model Yacht Club, which just happens to be holding their monthly regatta this Sunday, February 26, 2006 at 11 am. This sounds like a fun time, even if the cherry trees aren't in full bloom.

Link: Photo Gallery from 2003 Bloom
Link: Lake Balboa Information
Link: Lake Balboa Model Yacht Club

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The saga of the wall continues...

Today was the day to dig for the footers of the new wall between our garden and the car dealership behind. It was also a great object lesson in the need to be around whenever anyone is doing anything on or near your property.

As the workmen began to dig, my wife walked out in the garden, as we have done every day, to check out this new phase of the process. As she watched them work, she noticed that the new footing and wall was going to encroach on "our" property about 6 inches. Previously we had been told by the construction supervisor that this would not be the case, but supposedly the latest survey had shown that the old wall had been at least 6 inches into the dealerships property.

At this point we could have shut down the whole operation, but I try to find a balance when such issues arise. We had informed all the workmen, nicely that we were trying to maintain the vines that had been growing on the old wall and, in doing so, we had laid out certain limits for their work, even if they were unofficial. We also continued to watch as they continued to dig the footings, noting anywhere there was subsidence of the soul. Before they had removed 2 bucketfuls of soil, though, we heard the backhoe operator and his supervisor talking. The decision was made, on the spot, to move the footer over 4-6 inches further from where it had been planned.

Had this happened because we were standing there watching? It seems obvious that if we hadn't been observing earlier, we would have returned to the typical construction fait accompli. There would have been little recourse then.

While we are being as cooperative as we can, I figure you get more if you, at least, start out nicely, we are also watching the construction very carefully to insure that we don't arrive home some evening to some major problem. Even if you have to talk off work or otherwise juggle your schedule, I highly recommend you be close at hand whenever any major project is underway.

A Good Thing

In all the "observing" today, I think I have noticed one good thing. The new wall is supposed to be 10 feet tall. This seems a bit extreme for us and we had lobbied, unsuccessfully for it to be lowered. today, though, I noticed that the finished grade of the dealership property seems to be about 2-3 feet below the grade of our garden. Now, depending on the height of the footer, this might mean that the finished height of the wall, from our perspective, might only be 8 foot or so, much like the old wall. This would certainly be a nice accident, if it occurs.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Fine Gardening Pronunciation Guide

You've heard me joke about my lousy Latin pronunciations. Here is a site that can help to raise your botanical naming skills to a higher level. While the list is a bit limited in scope, it hits some of the more common genus and species and offers up high-quality WAV audio files so you can listen and compare your own pronunciations.

Link: Fine Gardening Pronunciation Guide

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Podcast delivered...

Why yes....yes, they are, right here at A Gardener's Notebook!

Guerilla Gardeners Hit London In The Middle Of The Night

Could your neighborhood use a little brightening up? It looks like guerilla gardening is making the news in the UK. Take a bare, blighted spot, clean up the trash and enliven it with some new plantings. Some people might take offense at your operations, that is always a risk, but maybe this is one way to improve life for everyone who passes just a little.

Guerilla Gardeners Hit London In The Middle Of The Night

“I just thought dammit, I am going to sort this out, so I set my alarm clock and got up in the middle of the night… The police have stopped us loads of times, they just say, “What are you doing?” I say “Gardening.” And they say, “Great.”’ These are the words of Richard Reynolds, the man behind London’s growing Guerilla Gardening scene.

(Via Treehugger.)

Link: Previous mentions of Guerilla Gardening

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Monday, February 13, 2006

Wisteria Returns...

It looks like we completed the pergola just in time. The wisteria is already making a big push after its major pruning. I had to strip all the long vines off of the old trellis in order to dismantle it, but 3 of the 4 plants are showing signs of new growth. The one in the picture is producing the most visible growth right now, but 2 others are showing buds and the first hints of green leaves.

Unfortunately, one plant, along the Northeast corner of the new trellis is showing no signs of rejuvenation at all. I will be disappointed to lose this one, but a 75% survival rate isn't too bad for a project like this. I haven't given up hope yet, though, perhaps it is just a late bloomer.

As these vines re-grow, I will begin training them to the uprights and over the top cross pieces. In the new open pergola design there will be plenty of space for blossoms to hang down through the structure. In the old trellis, the flowers would often just lay on top of the lattice work and never be seen. Each year, from now on, I will treat this wisteria as it should be treated, trimming it back hard each year, etc., instead of letting it run wild.

Link: Related posts on Wisteria
Link: Previous wisteria pictures
Link: Google Search on Wisteria Care
Link: Books on Wisteria

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

A Gardener's Notebook 003 - Projects, Composting, Azaleas and Propogation

This week's show touches on recent gardening projects, including the completion of our pergola, 2 gardening books, composting workshops, propagating azaleas by layering and some ideas for growing more Brunfelsia. (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow).

Listen to the Podcast

I'd love to hear what's going on in your garden. Post your comments here or email them to agn@welchwrite.com.

Link: Homescaping by Ann Halpin
Link: Sunset Western Garden Book

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Macro Flowers!

Originally uploaded by leahpeah.
I love flower pictures, especially macro lens close-ups.

Leah provides a bunch on here site. Enjoy!

Macro Flowers Playing with the macro:

Here is the whole set.

(Via leahpeah.)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

...and the wall came tumbling down...

In preparation for the building of a 3-story parking garage behind our home, the car dealership started to remove our back wall today. They will be replacing it with a 10 foot cement block wall with a greenspace beyond to help mask the building (a little).

Here is a short video of the demolition process. The workers and backhoe operator were very careful to not damage the trees or the vines that I will be replacing on the new wall. We will have to live with the temporary net fencing for a few weeks, but, so far, things are running smoothly. The next step is to remove the existing footings, re-grade the surrounding area, set forms and pour the new footings. Then they can start building the new wall.

Watch the Video

Link: Books about garden walls

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Pergola Construction Continues Completed!!!

Updated (1030am, 2/8/06): Except for a few touchups on the stain and deciding what we want to do on the ground beneath it, the pergola project is now complete. I have posted 4 new pictures of the completed structure in the photo gallery linked below.

Our new pergola has finally started to rise up from the rot of the old trellis. This pergola is much heavier and impressive than the old structure. We are building it out of 6x6 lumber and it simply presents a more imposing presence.

We were slowed a bit by a forklift accident at the lumber yard that damaged one of our 6x6 posts. Re-ordering and delivery has it arriving Monday afternoon. Then it is will have to be stained. By Tuesday we should be moving forward again.

We assembled one side of the structure on Friday, in order to set the height and level of the final structure. This will have to be disassembled, though, to make some decorative cuts on the end of each beam. Still, it is nice to finally get an idea what the structure will look like when it is completed.

During the assembly we noticed that the lumberyard had delivered us 14 foot beams instead of the 12 foot we had ordered. It looks like we will use them anyway though, as they give a nice lateral spread to the structure and make it look a bit more dramatic. Just an example of what can happen on even the smallest project.

Our contractor is taking the time and energy to make sure everything is square and level and it is nice to see such good work being put into what is a, relatively, unimportant garden structure. This pergola should server serve us for years to come. (Must be too much computer work creeping its way into my life. I see servers everywhere -D)

Link: Pergola Construction Photos
Link: Books on Pergolas

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Outdoor Sculpture for Birds & Other Living Things

Feed your feathered friends and add a delightful piece of sculpture to your garden. MoCoLoco points over to these excellent bird feeders with a "modern" twist. Even living here in my little cottage style house, I think I could find a place for several of these, if my pocketbook would allow it.

Outdoor Sculpture for Birds & Other Living Things

St. Louis designer Joe Papendick has a line of freestanding welded copper and steel birdfeeders that act as garden sculpture as well. Most of the feeders stand between 5 and 6 feet tall and are meant to be planted...

(Via MoCoLoco.)

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Monday, February 06, 2006

Three Sisters

Three Sisters 1
Originally uploaded by dewelch.
More daffodil pictures from my garden this afternoon. They are putting on quite a show this year and simply luxuriating in the unseasonably warm and sunny weather.

Click the photo for a complete collection of pictures on Flicker.com

Friday, February 03, 2006

Book: Homescaping by Anne Halpin

Garden books, as a genre, tend to lean in 2 general directions. There are the books filled with beautiful pictures, but not much information and, on the other side, are books that are pages and pages of text with little or no design. Homescaping by Anne Halpin proves that a gardening book can be both beautiful and informative.

There are plenty of "Plant Finder" lists, which recommend plants for many different scenarios, but the book never devolves into an endless list of possibilities. Other sections include garden styles, color-coordinating house and garden, landscaping, structures and more.

I found this to be a great book to browse at random whenever I had a few moments. You can easily pick up 2-3 great tips each time you pick it up. After my initial browsing, though, I am now working through the book cover to cover, trying to gather all the good information it can offer.

Link: Related posts on Garden Books
Link: Books on Gardening
Link: Rodale - Publisher's Web Site

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

AGN February Calendar

Although I didn't complete this idea in time for January, here I present the first monthly AGN Photo Calendar.

Each month, I will include a single-page calendar, with one of my garden-related photos, in PDF format, suitable for printing. As I produce more of these I will start to include important events and other gardening information.

Please let me know what you think of these calendars and how they might be improved.

If you subscribe to the AGN RSS feed, you will receive these calendars automatically. Apple's iTunes software allows you to easily view and print PDF files directly in the same way you listen to the AGN podcast.

Link: AGN February Photo Calendar (PDF)

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